Aliens: Don’t Jump Over the Fence, Do What My Family Did—Get in Line
—W. K. Winn
I did not anticipate having any real chance of coming to the United States when I was growing up in my native Jarkaken, Liberia. So, it was a surprise to me when my father visited Liberia in 1989 from the USA and told me and other siblings that he had filed for us to come to the United States of America. It was a long process, though. In fact, it took almost four years before my dad was able to bring some of us to him.
As I said already, I always had some doubts about actually making the trip to the States. During the waiting period, I had to leave Liberia very late in1991 for the Tabou, Ivory Coast ...view middle of the document...
S. immigration and naturalization processes intensified. There were plenty of letters and things to take to the embassy and other family members. I even made a decision to rent a mailbox—post office box number 240—at the local post office to enhance communication with my father. Many refugees soon heard about the box and asked if they could receive mails through me. I agreed. Almost instantaneously, the tiny box became very busy. It averaged about fifteen to twenty pieces of mails each week. That was quite an increase. When I used it alone, it averaged fewer than five letters a week. I became a middleman for many families, including mine. Many chanted my “good name” because they recognized that I had very high level of integrity. Many of the mails that came in the box contained money for people. The mails mostly came from European countries, Canada, and the USA. Not a single letter sent through me had any tainted issues; I was sure to physically give the letters to their respective owners.
Many times I traveled to a number of cities in the Ivory Coast, to include Abidjan, Man, Danane, Sasandla, Yamoussoukro, Subre and San Pedro. I collected and delivered money sent through me for other refugees. In mid 1994, I traveled to the cities of Lola and N’Zerekore in Guinea as well as Yekepa, Liberia to deliver money to other families. Whenever I received any United States immigration and naturalization service (INS) documents through the mailbox, I submitted such documents to the US Embassy in Abidjan.
Finally, we got a schedule for INS medical examination and a subsequent US embassy interview. Father sent me to Guinea to pick up Perry Winn (my cousin) and his mother, Elsie Winn to participate in the medical screening and the interview. Elsie was renamed “Elizabeth” to avoid confusion since one of her children (Small Elsie) was her namesake.
Because of the nation’s general elections, the Guineans closed their borders with neighbors. In September 1994. I was denied entry into Guinea on first attempt. A few weeks later, however, I gained entry, but not without a charge at the Danane-Lola border. I brought Perry and Oldma Elsie to Tabou. We stayed in Tabou for a week than we—Perry Winn, Elizabeth Winn, Nelson Winn, and Wilfred Winn— went to Abidjan.
Nelson Targiour Winn, my brother, did the medical part but did not survive the embassy interview. The fallout was something only a few of us understood. Our uncle’s gross/annual household income was low. The US embassy said our uncle did not make enough money to sponsor four people. Because of poor incomes, the embassy employees told us, there were many people in the states who depended on the government for their day to day living. They did not want to give visas to people who had less than the recommended household incomes. Doing so, they told us, would increase their government’s burden.
My mother did not understand and was angry with that U.S. law. But angry or not, that was the...